Ramapo Graduate Krautman is Bronx Bound
Former All-American named All-Big East, kicking for Syracuse in Pinstripe Bowl
When Ross Krautman takes to the field in Yankee Stadium Thursday he will not be swinging for the fences. Instead, the Ramapo High School graduate will be aiming for the uprights as the starting kicker for the Syracuse Orange as the team plays the Kansas State Wildcats in the first-ever Pinstripe Bowl.
"It's definitely going to be an experience," the Franklin Lakes resident said. "We're going to have a lot of fun."
As a freshman at Syracuse, Krautman has already made a name for himself. His .944 field goal percentage led the Big East and was the second best single-season performance in school history. He also was named second team all-conference.
"It just pushes me to work hard and become even better," he said of his achievements.
In addition to kicking field goals, Krautman shared some of the kickoff responsibilities with senior kicker Rob Long throughout the season. Krautman will be kicking off against the Wildcats as well, due to Long's recent illness.
The son of Jeff and Sharon Krautman of Franklin Lakes, he first started kicking in the fifth grade. As he grew older, he began developing skills by working out with his older brother Ricky—who also kicked for several seasons at Syracuse—and with local kicking coach Pat Sempier.
While at Ramapo, Krautman played on the school's 2009 state championship team and earned two state records: one for kicking 123 out 124 extra points and a second for his streak of 81 extra points in a row.
Moving up to the collegiate level required Krautman to make some physical and psychological adjustments. The day-to-day routine is far more intense, with a training regimen that includes running, weight training, stretching and, of course, lots and lots of kicking.
He has also had to get used to the crazed atmosphere of Division I college football. To cope, he used a trick he developed in high school: "I never look up in the stands." A physical education major, he also has had to learn to balance his life between the classroom and the practice field.
Amidst all the new challenges, Krautman earned the place kicker job on the last day of training camp.
Reflecting back on the season, Krautman cited the team's first game on Sept. 4 against the University of Akron in Ohio as a personal high point.
"I was definitely pumped up," he said. "I worked with the holders and the snappers throughout camp. I had a lot of confidence."
That confidence soared to new heights in the second quarter of the 29-3 victory, when Krautman hit the first field goal of his collegiate career from 47 yards out.
"I felt like I could really do this," he said.
Krautman also had a banner return to the Garden State when the Orangemen played Rutgers on Nov. 13. Krautman kicked a career long 48-yard field goal in the third quarter to even the score at 10-10. He then hit a 24-yard shot with 1:07 remaining to give Syracuse the win. It would be the team's last victory of the regular season as they finished up 7-5.
"Ever since I was a little kid I dreamed of being in that situation," he said. "I had a lot of confidence in my linemen, my long snapper and my holder. It was an awesome feeling being able to kick the game winner."
For his efforts against the Scarlet Knights, Krautman was named the Big East special teams player of the week. (Check these two articles in the Syracuse student newspaper about Krautman and the Rutgers win: http://www.dailyorange.com/sports/big-east-lauds-su-s-krautman-1.1780593; http://www.dailyorange.com/sports/going-bowling-su-becomes-bowl-eligible-thanks-to-krautman-s-game-winning-kick-in-win-over-rutgers-1.1774911)
Although Syracuse plays its home games indoors, Krautman said he is well-prepared for the potentially frigid conditions because of the numerous cold weather games he played in high school.
"The cold is not a factor, since I've been used to it," he said.
The Pinstripe Bowl begins at 3:20 p.m. Thursday and will be broadcast nationally on ESPN. For information and tickets, visit http://web.pinstripebowl.com/index.